Clever Arians Play Design Gave Steelers Key Touchdown

As we’ve seen in our comments over the past week and months (and years before SL came about), people love to questions Bruce Arians’ playcalling. There’s no doubt that he’s had some awful games (last year’s Browns loss, for example), but he’s also an offensive coordinator for a team going to its second Super Bowl in three years. And in Sunday’s game, some of the Steelers’ success can be credited to Arians’ playcalling and his play design.

That was never more evident than on Ben Roethlisberger’s second-quarter two-yard touchdown run. On that play, Arians’ scheme was good enough to actually make the Jets block their own player.

The Steelers lined up in a run-heavy formation (three tight ends, one running back and one wide receiver). With two tight ends to the left, the formation indicated a likely run to the left. Before the snap, wideout Mike Wallace went in motion from right to left across the formation, adding to the indications that it would be a run to the left.

Wallace not only went in motion, he took off across the formation. That forced Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis to run at full speed across the formation as well, a clear indication that Revis was covering Wallace man-to-man.

At the snap, Wallace hadn’t made it all the way across the formation by design — the Steelers are going to use him as a play action fake to get the defense moving to the Steelers left. The line fires out to block that way as well. Wallace is just a decoy — one of several on this play. Now keep an eye on Revis.

Revis has a whole lot of traffic to navigate if he’s going to stay on Wallace, which causes him to not really notice that he’s on a collision course with linebacker Bryan Thomas.

This gives you a better look at it.

The play is designed to have three options. 1) Heath Miller in the back of the end zone. 2) Rashard Mendenhall in the flat or 3) Ben Roethlisberger keeps the ball. The Jets covered Miller and Mendenhall extremely well, but Thomas, who had containment responsibility, has been blocked out of the play by Revis.

The result? A Steelers touchdown that gave Pittsburgh a 17-0 lead.

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  • Tequila0341

    Really nice set of screenshots and explanations on how a key play worked! Great job.

  • drinkingclub

    What I like about Arians is, with a few exceptions, the Steelers are in the game and if behind are only a play away from a win or tie. What I don’t like about Arians is five wide empty backfield sets on third and two.

    • ryan

      Haha. Seriously. I could do without the five-wide set on third and short. Of course, I’ve been saying that for years now. But, right, in general, I have few complaints.